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Registered Dietitians Answer Your Questions about Restaurant Nutrition

What Are the Best Choices at a Tapas Restaurant?


Tapas restaurants are a great place to get together with friends and sample a variety of menu choices. Tapas are appetizers or snacks that can get you through to the next meal or be combined to create a full meal.  
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Q: I am eating out with friends at a tapas restaurant.  What do you recommend I order?

These small bites originated in Spain, where meals are thoroughly savored and enjoyed, and restaurants and bars specializing in these delicacies have become common across the United States. Tapas restaurants are all about smaller portion size and sharing. Instead of ordering a huge plate (even an oversized, loaded salad), you can control the portions that you want. And sharing is a great way to get a variety without having to limit yourself to one or two plates – not to mention it makes for a really fun time!

When eating out at a tapas restaurant, follow these tips to savor your meal without going overboard:
  • Share higher calorie items such as tortillas Española, stuffed peppers or stuffed mushrooms (usually the stuffings have higher calorie ingredients).
  • Look for options that have olives, which are rich in vitamin E and iron, or roasted veggies on toast. Other great choices are pickled veggies, ceviché, roasted shrimp or mussels and clams.
  • When possible, stay away from fried options and heavy oil or cream. Dishes such as chopitos, which are battered, fried baby squid, can be much higher in calories than other non-fried tapas.
  • If you are planning on pairing your tapas with a drink, opt for wine over sangria, which generally has added sugar and fruit juice.
Venturing out into new cuisines is a tasty way to keep your taste buds interested and stay on track with a healthy lifestyle.  What are your top picks for tapas restaurants?

When eating out, whatever type of restaurant you prefer, opt for dietitian-recommended menu choices like these:
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